Rebbe Nachman of Breslov famously said, “It is a great Mitzvah to be happy”, for through happiness a person can reach tremendous heights in serving God. As the Gemara in Shabbos says (30b) “The Shechina does not dwell by sadness…or by laziness… the Shechina dwells only with someone who does the mitzvos with Joy”. Simcha, and Zerizus – alacrity – are closely connected. We can find an example of that connection in our lives whenever we feel really inspired, at that moment we will run to do any mitzvah for when we feel inspired and happy we are able to see our ultimate purpose. We feel in those moments a great level of clarity and understanding which allows us to drop whatever else is going on and run to do a mitzvah.
We may learn a lot about zerizus from Avraham in this week’s Parsha, as the pasuk says, “He lifted his eyes and saw that there were three men standing before him, so he ran to them and bowed toward the ground” (18:2) When Avraham was just sitting in the tent he was in a tremendous amount of pain recovering from his Bris but despite his pain Avraham was saddened because the sun was beating down so hot it prevented any guests from showing up. Because of this, God was not talking to Avraham because like the Gemara said, The Shechina does not dwell with someone when they are sad. But when he saw these three guests Avraham became inspired and ran to fulfill the mitzvah of serving guests and because of that zerizus he became joyous which led to God appearing to him. Yet even with the appearance of The Shechina Avraham passed up on the offer in order to go greet these guests, teaching us that “Greeting guests is even greater than greeting the Shechina” (Shabbos 127a). At this point Avraham could have been basking in the light of the Shechina but it appears that he instead went to greet the three men; “Be right back God, I’ve got some travelers to take care of”.
Someone like you and I would probably forget all about the Mitzvah we were running to do, becoming “distracted” by God appearing to us, yet Avraham didn’t skip a beat – he kept on running with Simcha to greet his guests. Because in his inspiration Avraham understood, he had the clarity to see that “Greeting guests is even greater than greeting the Shechina” but as soon as Avraham greeted the guests he “bowed toward the ground” now greeting Hashem and thanking Him for bringing him an opportunity for a mitzvah he could perform so joyously. Avraham’s actions are a great lesson to us, teaching us that even when we are involved in learning torah we should interrupt it to fulfill the mitzvah of Hachanasas Orchim. If we are able to have zerizus in the mitzvos we do it will lead us to joy which will then bring the Shechina to dwell with us like we saw by Avraham, so may it be Hashems will that we run to do mitzvos and good things with joy, hopefully step by step bringing Gods presence into our life.